Breaking up concrete yourself might seem an impossible task, yet doing it yourself would save you a lot of money. You would not need to hire a removals company.
Begin with confidence that you don’t need any special skill to demolish and remove concrete slabs. All you need is some careful planning, the right tools, and some degree of caution.
Below is our guide to break up slabs into smaller pieces, cut through steel reinforcements and remove and dispose of the debris properly.
Start by Evaluating Repair VS Complete Removal
It is best to remove concrete completely when dealing with the following situations on your slab, sidewalk, patio, or driveway;
This occurs when part of the concrete is pushed up because of frosting in colder regions.
deep and wide cracks typically occur in extreme climatic conditions.
Caused by improper preparation of the sub-grade.
In some cases though, repairing might be a great option. It entails less work and less expensive. The following are a few situations where repairing might be a wiser option;
Small hairline cracks that don’t show any sign of settling can be easily repaired.
Sunken parts of a concrete slab caused by heavy equipment that was placed on the slab can also be corrected through repair.
Keep in mind that sometimes complete removal and replacement is better because of some persistent issues that still show up even after you repair the damage.
In this case, repair costs might start to pile. Hence it will be better to just remove and replace the concrete.
Get the right tools
If you hire a contractor, they will definitely come with more sophisticated tools. Two common tools contractors use are the Bobcat and the jack hammer.
The Bobcat is equipped with a hydraulic or pneumatic breaker attachment that helps to “thrash” the concrete. The contractor is also likely to bring a roll-off dumpster to haul away the broken concrete
Tools you should be looking at
Having a contractor that has these tools means you don’t have to buy them. You can always rent them for the project. Instead, you can focus on two smaller but very effective tools: the sledge hammer and the jack hammer.
THE SLEDGE HAMMER
This is your primary tool to remove the concrete. A few measured blows using a 12 lb. sledge hammer can crack most concrete slabs easily.
This works particularly well on narrow concrete slabs measuring four inches or less in thickness. You should be able to find one online for not more than $50.
Jackhammers are pneumatic hammers, meaning they are operated by air. They are heavier than sledge hammers, weighing about 90 lbs. But they are also more effective on thicker slabs.
Since jackhammers are also more expensive, you should consider renting rather than buying one outright.
Rental jackhammers come with an assortment of bits. You only need the chisel-point bit. It’s pointed head concentrates the hammer’s force on a small area, cracking the concrete faster than wider bits.
Additionally, don’t try to drill it into large pieces of concrete. Otherwise, the jackhammer will literally stick in the concrete. It will take a lot of time getting it out.
The idea is to move it no more than 2-3 inches into the slab and have a helper pry up with a long bar as you tear up the concrete.
Dealing with steel meshes and rebar
Many slabs contain a steel mesh reinforcement for it not to crack. These meshes can double or even triple the time it would take to crush the concrete slab.
This is why you should work on smaller pieces rather than big concrete pieces. On the smaller sections, you can cut the mesh with a bolt cutter.
For concrete slabs that contain rebar, use a reciprocating saw and metal blade or an angle grinder and metal cut-off wheel.
A few more tips…
Plan for disposal
Concrete can’t go into a trash can. You’ll need a larger, stronger equipment to carry the pieces. Some concrete recycles usually pick it for free or charge a small fee, though you’re likely to pay additional fees if the concrete contains steel or mesh.
As for hauling, you can always count on a sturdy wheelbarrow to get you through. For this, use heavy-duty wheelbarrows or a powered one. Smaller ones would easily give in to the weight.
You’ll need more than one pair of hands
You need help with the lifting. Ideally, have a duo break up the concrete and two to four others haul the rubble away. If you can have more people, that’s better.
Wear protective clothing to prevent rubble projectiles from cutting your skin and wear protective goggles. Also protect your ears with noise cancelling headphones.
Slab removal can save you money!
If you’re hesitant to remove the concrete on your own, think of the potential savings.
Depending on where you live, basic removal can cost anywhere from $400 to $600 for a 200 square foot slab of recyclable concrete. The price usually goes up when it’s non-recyclable concrete.
A typical two-car concrete driveway costs between $1,500 and $2,500 to remove and a concrete foundation generally costs up to $5,000 to remove. And, that’s before you include disposal costs which can be between $100 and $500 depending on project.
If you need special equipment for the job, you may have to spend a few more hundred dollars. So, by the time you have even a basic slab removed by a contractor, you could end up spending more than $2,000.
If you do the job on your own, you can save a large chunk of that money, possibly up to $1,000 or more.
Our customer-focused staff and wide array of tools are exactly what you need to accomplish the job without any hassle. Contact us today and let’s see where we can chip in.